November 5, 2010 in Nation/World

Contractor settles in overbilling case with U.S.

 

WASHINGTON – One of the government’s highest profile American contractors in Afghanistan has agreed to pay tens of millions of dollars to settle allegations that it overbilled the U.S. government.

In return, the Justice Department will end its investigation into allegations that Louis Berger was intentionally overcharging American taxpayers, individuals close to the investigation told McClatchy Newspapers on Thursday. The settlement, which could be as high as $65 million, would include civil and criminal penalties.

Holly Fisher, a company spokeswoman, declined to comment on the settlement. A spokeswoman with the U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey, which is overseeing the case, also declined to comment.

The settlement is part of a deferred prosecution agreement, which means that the government retains its right to reopen the investigation if the company engages in future wrongdoing.

Louis Berger’s alleged overbilling, a practice that dates to at least the mid-1990s, swelled to tens of millions in lost tax dollars, McClatchy Newspapers first reported earlier this year.

It’s unclear whether the settlement would impact the company’s current operations in Afghanistan.


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